Lake Chapala, Mexico's largest fresh water lake, is known worldwide for its mild weather, scenic charm and incredible sunsets. It is a popular vacation getaway for citizens of Mexico as well as international travelers. Since it is only 25 miles south of
Guadalajara it is also a natural weekend or vacation spot for the inhabitants of Mexico's second largest city. Mainly located in the state of Jalisco but also extending into Michoacan, the lake is approximately 50 miles long by 10 miles wide.
Lake Chapala started to gain in popularity at the beginning of the 20th century. In the early 1900's, President Porfirio Diaz discovered that aristocrats were spending their weekends at Lake Chapala. Intrigued, he visited the area and fell in love with it. He had an estate built, Villa Montecarlo, which today serves as one of the lake's country clubs.
Boaters, Lake Chapala||
A large number of American and Canadian retirees (approximately 40,000) reside in the Lake Chapala community. The area's three main cities Chapala, Ajijic and Jocotepec are located on the lake's northern shore. The Lake Chapala region is three hours away from the coastal beaches of Manzanillo
and four hours from Puerto Vallarta
. The cost of living in and around the Lake Chapala region is known for its affordability, many say it is about half the cost of living in the United States.
Lake Chapala serves as a habitat for migratory birds, including the White Pelican. In addition, the ecosystem of the lake supports thousands of indigenous plants and animals. Unfortunately, untreated run-off from industrial and agricultural sources has adversely affected the health of the lake. Additionally, Guadalajara's great demand for fresh water has taken its toll and has exacerbated the lake's ecological concerns. Fortunately, several grassroots groups and international entities, including the scientific community, are actively seeking solutions for Lake Chapala.
One sightseeing option at Lake Chapala is to visit its two small islands, Isla de los Alacranes and Isla de Mezcala. The latter features the ruins of an old fort where Mexican forces fought the Spaniards from 1812 to 1816.
Another major landmark to explore is the historic church of Chapala, the Iglesia de San Francisco. Built in 1528, the church is located two blocks south of the main plaza in town.
On the main street, Avenida Madero, there are plenty of restaurants, cafes and shops to enjoy and explore. Weekends provide more shopping opportunities when locals set up stalls with items for sell, including local handicrafts, musical instruments and leather goods.
The following businesses provide services in the Lake Chapala area: